Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban Spanish

Alltimegreat

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I'm wondering how the Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico and Cuba compares with Dominican Spanish.

Specifically, for a native English speaker from the US or Canada who is learning Spanish with self-taught courses, which of these three variants would generally be easiest to understand and which would be the hardest?

Thanks in advance for the opinions and insight!
 

CristoRey

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Dominican/ Puerto Rican use a lot of the same slang and mannerisms.

One of my neighbors is from Cuba. She moved to the DR 3 months ago because oldest son is training here to play in MLB.

From I've been told Cubans speak more proper (whatever that means) also tells me Dominicans curse a lot more.
 

Mm530

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i never understand why people say they pr & dr are almost the same... they are not. they do have similarities but def not the same. domincan is way faster... pr is more of twang they have. among other differences!
 

NALs

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If you're going by the average person, Cuban Spanish is probably the closest to the Spanish taught in the USA (not in the general sense, but compared to Dominican Spanish). With that said, in all three is common to shorten words by cutting letters in addition to using words of Taino origin (most people don't know that's the origin, for most is all Spanish but outside of those places and Venezuela; think of words such as chin or mata, they are unknown). Some African words are also incorporated into the language such as can, but generally these words are unknown elsewhere. Some words are similar, for example guagua means bus in Cuba, the DR, and PR; but, in Chile it’s a word from the native Mapuches and it means baby. There are other words that have the opposite meaning, depending the country. One example is ahora which in the DR, PR, and Cuba it means now and ahorita means later. In Guatemala the meaning is the opposite, ahora means later and ahorita means now. Vos is usually used in Panama, Nicaragua, etc; but in the Spanish Caribbean and in many countries vos is never used, instead tú is used in its place. Even how the language is referred is different, with the Caribbean countries calling it Español while in other countries such as Peru the most common usage is Castellano.

The other thing to take into account is that Dominicans and all the people from the countries mentioned speak faster than the typical Spanish-speaker. That also makes it harder for others to understand. As with everything, after a few months of constant exposure usually speakers of Spanish from elsewhere get used to it and becomes easier to understand.

One last thing is that Dominicans and people from those countries will add swear words, many that could be very offensive in say Mexico or Ecuador, but it isn’t in the Spanish from the Caribbean. The irony is that Spaniards themselves tend to use swear words much more often than in Latin America, but similar frequency as in the Spanish Caribbean. The result is that at first many Latin Americans are put off from the Spaniards because of that, but Dominicans and other people from the Spanish Caribbean aren’t. The Spanish taught in the USA doesn’t includes the swear words, but neither does Spanish taught elsewhere.

All in all, the Spanish taught in the USA will prepare you for getting the gist of the language, but simply personal experience with the Spanish spoken in each country will improve your understanding.
 
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cavok

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I'll never for get one time I was with a very educated Peruvian in a local bar in San Juan. Two guys there got into a very loud, animated conversation.. I asked the Peruvian what it was all about. He said - "I don't know. I couldn't understand a word they said",
 

Sailor51

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Thanx NALs. I used Babble for a while and not a single Mexican in Idaho could understand me. Found out it's basically Madrid, as in Spain.
Maybe a western US Spanish? In Florida I get asked where I'm from.
Go figure ...
 

NALs

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Thanx NALs. I used Babble for a while and not a single Mexican in Idaho could understand me. Found out it's basically Madrid, as in Spain.
Maybe a western US Spanish? In Florida I get asked where I'm from.
Go figure ...
The dialect from Madrid is so annoying to Latin Americans that movies filmned with that accent have to be dubbed to a more "standard" Spanish prior to hitting theaters in Latin America. The dubbing is usually done in Mexico City. I think the only place outside the Madrid area that speaks Spanish like them is Equatorial Guinea in Africa.
 
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Marianopolita

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I'm wondering how the Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico and Cuba compares with Dominican Spanish.

Specifically, for a native English speaker from the US or Canada who is learning Spanish with self-taught courses, which of these three variants would generally be easiest to understand and which would be the hardest?

Thanks in advance for the opinions and insight!

Spanish from the Antilles meaning Cuba, DR and PR are similar sounding yet quite distinct accent wise. If you are a beginner at first Spanish from all three islands sounds the same and it will take a long time before you will be able to distinguish among the different accents. However, hopefully that will not be your focus. The three islands share similar speech patterns- dropping of the final S, suppressed d , R to L change- this is very common in PR but you will hear this from Cubans and Dominicans too. Education is a huge factor with the R to L change. For example, amol, puelta, golda….you will not find the words written in a textbook or dictionary but they are heard in the Caribbean Antillles. As well, there are many grammatical patterns in the Caribbean that are not the standard but spoken by all regardless of social class- ojo.

My recommendation is if you are teaching yourself via courses just keeping doing that because standard or academic Spanish is understood everywhere and to your benefit. Vocabulary will differ from region to region or country to country but standard Spanish will give you a good foundation to understand, learn to speak and then continue if you wish to get to the next level in Spanish.

In my opinion, Cuban Spanish is the fastest and PR potentially the most difficult to understand of the three.


Cheers,

MP.
 
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CristoRey

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i never understand why people say they pr & dr are almost the same... they are not. they do have similarities but def not the same. domincan is way faster... pr is more of twang they have. among other differences!
Not sure about "almost the same" but they definitely have a lot of similarities.
The speed with which they speak varies depending on the person.
 

Marianopolita

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Cubans have a very very heavy accent which a lot of other spanish speakers seem to find amusing.

This is true and very distinct too among the Caribbean accents. As well, like in other countries the accents vary within the country. Speakers in the eastern part of Cuba sound very similar to the DR and at times indistinguishable unless you listen to the pronunciation of certain words. Then compare it to Havana. These are very different accents. People find accents amusing if they are unfamiliar with them. The same can be said for English.
 

MariaRubia

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This is true and very distinct too among the Caribbean accents. As well, like in other countries the accents vary within the country. Speakers in the eastern part of Cuba sound very similar to the DR and at times indistinguishable unless you listen to the pronunciation of certain words. Then compare it to Havana. These are very different accents. People find accents amusing if they are unfamiliar with them. The same can be said for English.

IMO Cubans from the east of the island sound similar to Dominicans from areas like Mao or Cotui where they “speak with the I” (i.e. PIque rather than Parque). But I still find Cuban accents generally sound more rustic, and less educated Dominicans from the capital sound more Caribbean. For example contrast how a Cuban says Aeropuerto, which sounds like AyroPwayto, it’s very different to the way Dominicans say it. (I lived with a Cuban from Havana for many years).

In DR I have been corrected many times for putting R’s in words that supposedly should be said with an L (even though they definitely have an R) and for putting an S in words like Escalera or Francisco, which should evidently be pronounced Ekalera or Fransiko.
 

Marianopolita

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IMO Cubans from the east of the island sound similar to Dominicans from areas like Mao or Cotui where they “speak with the I” (i.e. PIque rather than Parque). But I still find Cuban accents generally sound more rustic, and less educated Dominicans from the capital sound more Caribbean. For example contrast how a Cuban says Aeropuerto, which sounds like AyroPwayto, it’s very different to the way Dominicans say it. (I lived with a Cuban from Havana for many years).

In DR I have been corrected many times for putting R’s in words that supposedly should be said with an L (even though they definitely have an R) and for putting an S in words like Escalera or Francisco, which should evidently be pronounced Ekalera or Fransiko.

You call it rustic and I call it guajiro or campesino that one hears in Cuba. Yes, those accents can be a challenge.

Wow in the DR someone correcting you about Spanish is strange 🤦‍♀️. Unless it is someone educated and clearly has a good command of the language, I would not take that seriously. In Spanish, the R to L change in pronunciation is incorrect. It is a speech pronunciation that is wrong but it goes to back colonization and is totally incorrect. In Spanish, there are no such words as amol, puelta, decil, hablal etc. all wrong pronunciation of the correct version with R.
 

MariaRubia

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You call it rustic and I call it guajiro or campesino that one hears in Cuba. Yes, those accents can be a challenge.

Wow in the DR someone correcting you about Spanish is strange 🤦‍♀️. Unless it is someone educated and clearly has a good command of the language, I would not take that seriously. In Spanish, the R to L change in pronunciation is incorrect. It is a speech pronunciation that is wrong but it goes to back colonization and is totally incorrect. In Spanish, there are no such words as amol, puelta, decil, hablal etc. all wrong pronunciation of the correct version with R.

I was working in a hotel and we had these radios. And I said something like “Marcos tráeme la escalera por favor” and silence. Then someone said “Ella dice Marco trae ekalera porfa”. And then Marcos would reply saying “Tato”. Always made me laugh that they needed to translate what the gringa was saying, delete the S’s and pop in a few L’s. They all understood perfectly well what I was saying, it was a way of saying that their Spanish was more correct than mine - and I guess in the Dominican world it is, as that’s how they speak the language so it is right for them.

I think it’s cute how they put an extra L in Enchufle for an electrical socket, or Canasta becomes Canato (I have no idea why the a becomes an O but it is a thing, at least in the capital, the packers often call it a canato in the supermarket).
 
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Marianopolita

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I was working in a hotel and we had these radios. And I said something like “Marcos tráeme la escalera por favor” and silence. Then someone said “Ella dice Marco trae ekalera porfa”. And then Marcos would reply saying “Tato”. Always made me laugh that they needed to translate what the gringa was saying, delete the S’s and pop in a few L’s. They all understood perfectly well what I was saying, it was a way of saying that their Spanish was more correct than mine - and I guess in the Dominican world it is, as that’s how they speak the language so it is right for them.

I think it’s cute how they put an extra L in Enchufle for an electrical socket, or Canasta becomes Canato (I have no idea why the a becomes an O but it is a thing, at least in the capital, the packers often call it a canato in the supermarket).

It does not take much for their low education level speech to show. Education is truly a privilege not to be taken for granted.

That example of speech you gave is informal register (which is okay) but I will add with a low education level which is where the challenge begins for them. If that person couldn’t understand you imagine him in a setting where people are speaking informal speech but a more standard Spanish or a non-Dominican environment? It is unbelievable how limited he is in his ability to understand Spanish because what you said (and most likely accent wise) did not sound familiar to him. The person who said it in a more local parlance was a subtle way of saying- you do not speak like us.

Adding extra letters to words where they do not belong like in your example enchufle is also a sign of low education. This happens with the letter S too. You will hear people in the DR say bosca instead of boca and se vas instead of se va.

Regarding canasta both words exist in Spanish. Canasta and canasto both mean basket. To my knowledge there is no difference only that canasta can be used specifically for a wicker basket other than that you will hear both.


Que viva el español ⛱🏝


- MP ✍️
 
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NALs

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Just for the record, a good enough map showing where things such as replacing an R with an L is most prevalent (vertical lines).

RuToSj.jpg


Another map of population density and distribution.

RuTncb.jpg


If anyone assumes that Dominicans do things like replacing R with L (a tendency that is much more widespread in Puerto Rico since it encompasses almost the entire island, in fact the areas where replacing R with L is most prevalent in the DR are areas that also received a sizeable number of Puerto Ricans in the late 19th and early 20th century which one thing could have a connection with the other), what it does reveal is that the person lives in or spends most or all of their time in the DR in the Santo Domingo area.

There are other differences within the country, such as it's common for people in the Santo Domingo area to call oranges china (that's how they are often called throughout Puerto Rico), but in Santiago and much of the Cibao no one calls it that, naranja will do. If someone does call it that, its almost certain they are from the capital.
 
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Marianopolita

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Cuban Spanish: Guantanamero, guajira guantanamera 🎵

Yes, a Cuban classic song about a young girl and heartbreak by the great Compay Segundo.

Be careful: It’s Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera…..

….great opportunity too for language learning through song.
 
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